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MOU 225-97-8002

Memorandum of Understanding

Between
The United States Department of Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The United States Department of Agriculture
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service

The United States Department of Education 

and

The Partnership for Food Safety Education

 

This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is made and entered into among the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), agencies of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Food Safety and Inspection Service and Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Education and the Partnership for Food Safety Education, hereinafter referred to as the Partnership.

 

1. PURPOSE

The purpose of the MOU is to provide a framework for cooperation among the parties as each develops science-based consumer-oriented messages to promote safe food handling practices.

 

2. IDENTITY AND BACKGROUND OF PARTIES

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are agencies within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. FDA is the lead agency responsible for promoting and protecting the public health by ensuring that the food is safe and wholesome under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. CDC is the lead agency responsible for promoting health and quality of life by preventing and controlling disease. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES) are agencies in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. FSIS is responsible for ensuring that the nation's commercial supply of meat, poultry and egg products are safe, wholesome, and correctly labeled as required by the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act. CSREES provides information on food safety to every county in the Nation, offering education that links research, science, and technology to people where they live and work. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) supplements and complements the efforts of others, including the private sector, to improve the quality of education, for which Congress has established National Goals. Those Goals include ensuring that all children start school ready to learn (i.e. children will receive nutrition and health care needed to arrive at school with healthy minds and bodies) and that schools offer an environment conducive to learning (i.e. a healthy environment for all children).

 

The Partnership for Food Safety Education is comprised of food industry groups, and others, including consumer organizations and state associations, interested in promoting safe food handling behavior to prevent foodborne illness.

 

3. BACKGROUND

Foodborne infections remain a major public health problem. The Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, a private non-profit organization, estimated in its 1994 report, FOODBORNE PATHOGENS: RISKS AND CONSEQUENCES, that as many as 9,000 deaths and 6.5 to 33 million illnesses in the United States each year are food related. Medical costs and productivity losses for seven specific pathogens in food have been estimated to range between $6.5 billion and $34.9 billion annually. Total costs for all foodborne illnesses are likely to be much higher. Those estimates do not take into account the total burden placed on society by the chronic, often lifelong consequences caused by some foodborne pathogens. Total costs for all foodborne illnesses are likely to be much higher.

 

As a result, new food industry regulations have been recently introduced to improve food safety. These new regulations require food manufacturers to use a science-based system of hazard identification and control measures called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). Using the HACCP system, a food manufacturer analyzes the production system, identifies where a hazard may enter the food, implements a control measure to prevent the hazard from occurring, then constantly monitors the system to assure that the control is effective in producing a safe product.

While this new system will reduce harmful contamination and reduce the risk of illness for consumers it can not eliminate harmful bacteria. Consumers play an essential role in foodborne illness prevention. How they prepare and handle food at home and the decision to eat foods that may increase the risk of foodborne illness can have a significant impact on public health.

 

Recent survey research shows a decline in consumer knowledge about safe food handling. Moreover, recent focus group research shows that many consumers do notunderstand the basic safe food handling messages that have been in use by government and industry for years. Newly designed messages are needed for the consumers of the 21st century.

 

While the general public needs to understand safe food handling and its role in preventing illness, current campaigns are diverse and often complex. A unifying theme and basic set of simple, common and meaningful messages is needed to raise consumers' consciousness and motivate them to pay attention and improve their food handling behavior.

 

No single private or public entity commands the creative, human and financial resources to mount a major, high-impact safe food handling campaign. A partnership between the private and public sectors will bring together the necessary resources to create, launch and maintain such a broad food safety educational effort.

 

4. STATEMENT OF MUTUAL INTERESTS AND BENEFITS

The signatory parties recognize a mutual interest in improving the health of Americans by providing information that will encourage safe food handling. The parties propose to carry out this common objective by developing accurate, science-based, and consumer-oriented messages to promote safe handling behaviors. In understanding their independent projects, the parties will share information and serve as technical resources, with each other.

 

5. STATEMENT OF RESPONSIBILITIES

The Partnership for Food Safety Education and FDA, CDC, FSIS, CSREES, and ED will work together, to develop one overarching theme or slogan akin to "Five A Day" or "Only Your Can Prevent Forest Fires." Key educational messages will be channeled through existing networks of each signator and the outlets such as the media; local, state and federal governments; public health officials; consumer-based organizations; and private sector business.

 

In consideration of the above stated mutual interests and objectives, the parties agree to do the following:

 

FDA, CDC, FSIS, CSREES and ED agree to:

a. Provide liaison to the Partnership;

b. Coordinate communication between the Partnership and other government agencies;

c. Provide such technical assistance and support to the Partnership, as may be agreed upon, and document in writing, where practical, projects for the development, implementation, and evaluation of science-based and consumer-oriented messages to promote safe food handling practices;

d. Share information with the Partnership, including consumer-based market research for promotion of education about safe food handling; and

e. Provide opportunities, as appropriate, to communicate Partnership messages through FDA, CDC, FSIS, CSREES, and ED publications, programs, and activities.

 

The Partnership agrees to:

a. Request that FDA, CDC, FSIS, CSREES and ED identify contact persons to serve as liaisons to the Partnership;

b. Ensure that membership of the Partnership fairly reflects the broad spectrum of stakeholders in the food, food safety, consumer, and health community;

c. Develop science-based and consumer-oriented messages that promote safe food handling practices utilizing technical assistance and other support, as may be agreed upon from FDA, CDC, FSIS, CSREES and ED;

d. Share useful consumer research and other information generated by members of the Partnership with FDA, CDC, FSIS, CSREES, and ED for promotion of and education about safe food handling;

e. Ensure that all Partnership-developed messages to be released as a part of this MOU receive approval by FDA, CDC, FSIS, CSREES, and ED prior to release;

f. Provide opportunities for FDA, CDC, FSIS, CSREES, and ED to utilize Partnership-developed messages and materials through their respective publications, programs, and activities.

 

6. STATEMENT OF APPLICATION AND LIMITATIONS

It is mutually agreed and understood by and among the said parties that:

a. They will meet at least annually to review implementation of this MOU and to recommend any appropriate modifications;

b. This MOU will not restrict the parties from participating in similar activities or arrangements with other public or private agencies, organizations, or individuals;

c. The MOU does not obligate any funds. Any joint endeavors involving reimbursement of funds among the parties to this MOU will be handled in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and will be subject to a supplemental agreement which shall be effected in writing by the parties;

d. The parties agree to review and assess the effectiveness of the science-based, consumer oriented safe food handling messages developed pursuant to the efforts carried out under this MOU, on a periodic basis; and

e. The principal contacts for the MOU are:

 

For the Partnership:

Dagmar Farr
Vice President, Consumer Affairs
Food Marketing Institute

 

Sara Lilygren
Senior Vice President, Policy Development and Public Affairs
American Meat Institute

 

For the Government:

Susan Conley
Director, Food Safety Education & Communications Staff
Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA

 

f. This MOU will be effective on the date of signing.

Approved and Accepted
for the Department of Agriculture

Signed by: Dan Glickman, Secretary

Date: May 12, 1997

Approved and Accepted
for the Department of Education

Signed by: Richard, W. Riley, Secretary

Date: May 12, 1997

Approved and Accepted
for the Partnership for Food Safety Education

Signed by: Louis B. Raffel, President
American Egg Board

Signed by: Tim Hammonds, President and CEO
Food Marketing Institute

Signed by: Bryan Silbermann, President
Product Marketing Association

Signed by: Betsy Woodward, President
Association of Food and Drug Officials

Signed by: Arthur Jaeger, Executive Director
Public Voice for Food and Health Policy

Signed by: J. Patrick Boyle, President and CEO
American Meat Institute

Signed by: John Farquharson, President
Industrial Council on Food Safety
National Restaurant Association

Signed by: Chuck Schroeder, CEO
National Cattlemen's Beef Association

Signed by: Carol Tucker Foreman, Coordinator
Safe Food Coalition

Signed by: Stephen Brobeck, Executive Director
Consumer Federation of America

Date: May 12, 1997

Approved and Accepted
for the Food and Drug Administration

Signed by: Donna E. Shalala, Secretary

Date: May 12, 1997